Vasudeo Balwant Phadke (4 November 1845 – 17 February 1883) was an Freedom Fighter of Bharat. Phadke was moved by the plight of the farmer community during British Raj. Phadke believed that ‘Swaraj’ was the only remedy for their ills.
There was a terrible famine in Maharastra in 1876-77. Thousands of people died of starvation. And on one side were the white-skinned people who were nourished by Indian grain and were pleased to see the Indians die. Vasudev Balwant Phadke could not endure it. His soul rebelled. With the help of Kolis, Bhils and Dhangars communities in Maharastra, Vasudev formed a revolutionary group called as Ramoshi. The group started an armed struggle to overthrow the British Raj. The group launched raids on rich English businessmen to obtain funds for their liberation struggle.
He wrote in his daily dairy. “These my countrymen are the sons of the same mother as I am. It is impossible to think that they should starve and I should live uncaring like a beast. It is better to sacrifice my life to help them and make them free”
The British government was extremely troubled by the spread of Phadke’s terror. The British rule staggered under the impact of Phadke’s devastation. Traps were laid to capture him. The governor of Bombay, Sir Richard Temple, announced a reward of Rs 5000/- for anybody who captured or killed Phadke. Phadke could not keep quiet either. He too made an announcement: “I shall give a reward of Rs 10,000 to anybody who brings me the head of the governor of Bombay Sri Richard Temple”.
The government accelerated its efforts to catch Phadke and the time came when both the armies of Nizam and British were pursuing Phadke to capture him. In the course of chase, Phadke reached the Kingdom of the Nizam. He had been running for 1 full day and was very tired. He was suffering from fever as well. He came to a village in Kaladgin district in Hyderabad to seek shelter and lay down for rest in the temple of the Devi. He had become almost unconscious from fever and fatigue. Right then, the pursuing British army reached there Major Daniel who led the forces came and stood on his chest and put one of his booted feet on his neck and said “So Phadke! What do you want now”
Phadke replied “I would like to fight a duel with you”. Daniel did not accept the challenge. He handcuffed him and took him to Poona.
Phadke was transported to jail at Aden, but escaped from the prison by taking the door off from its hinges on 13 February 1883. But his escape was too short lived: he was recaptured and put back in prison. Phadke then went on a hunger strike to death. On 17 February 1883 Phadke breathed his last breath as a result of his protest hunger strike.